As of Wednesday, Texans will be permitted to carry handguns without training or permits. Here are five additional laws to go into effect Wednesday, too.
Senate Bill 8 states that abortions will be banned in Texas after a woman has reached as early as six weeks in her pregnancy — the earliest time a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Although the law does not specify a time frame, many women don’t know they’re pregnant within the first six weeks, according to the Texas Tribune.
The bill was authored by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, and first passed the Senate on March 30. It was sent to the House the next day. The bill differs from other state heartbeat laws as it also allows citizens to sue a physician who performs an abortion and to possibly be awarded no less than $10,000 in statutory damages.
Current state law permits abortions until 20 weeks of pregnancy; however, a fetal heartbeat could be detected as early as six weeks. More than 53,000 abortions were performed in Texas in 2020, according to the latest available state data.
On Tuesday, Several Texas abortion providers were awaiting the results of an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block the law.
Critical Race Theory
House Bill 3979, relating to the social studies curriculum in public schools, restricts how current events and America’s history of racism can be taught in Texas schools.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and others have called the critical race theory racist itself for centering history on racial conflict, and others have claimed the theory is being used to teach children they are racist and that the U.S. is a country with racist roots.
The bill’s author Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, said he wrote the bill to help children not feel guilty about complex subjects, such as slavery and racism.
The bill states, “A teacher who chooses to discuss a topic ... shall, to the best of the teacher’s ability, strive to explore the topic from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”
It also bans educators from requiring, making part of a course, or awarding a student credit for political activism, or contacting members of the legislative or executive branch to take specific actions by direct or indirect communication.
HB 1518 and 1024 allow alcohol to go from restaurants, which includes beer, wine and mixed drinks, to be included in pickup and delivery food orders. Texans have been able to purchase alcoholic beverages from restaurants to go, including liquor, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic because of an executive order.
Abbott said he first signed a waiver for the temporary order on March 18, 2020, in support of struggling restaurants after going into lockdown or closing dining areas. After Abbott took to Twitter last year teasing the possibility, the change will be permanent as of Wednesday.
The law will also allow the purchase of beer and wine at stores at 10 a.m. Sunday, whereas until this Wednesday, stores could only sell alcohol until noon Sundays.
Beginning Wednesday, the state is expanding its medical marijuana program to include patients with all stages of cancer, those with post-traumatic stress disorder and people participating in research initiatives.
The law will also increase the cap of THC in medical marijuana from .5 percent to 1 percent. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the component of the marijuana plant that causes psychological effects, including a sensation of being high. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, such as smoking, swallowing capsules and consuming edibles and oils. All but smoking will be permitted for people to whom the program applies. Vaporing and other means will be allowed.
State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) authored the bill, initially looking to raise the THC cap to 5 percent.
Taking effect Wednesday, vaccine passports are outlawed in Texas after Abbott signed Senate Bill 968 into law. Businesses that require customers to prove their vaccination status could risk losing their licenses, operating permits or state contracts.
Abbott issued a similar executive order in April that banned state agencies, political subdivisions and organizations from receiving public funds to create “vaccine passports,” or requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine to receive services.
According to the law, businesses may still proceed with COVID-19 screening and infection control protocols.